Young people without stable housing in Grays Harbor have a new place to go that aims to put them on a path to a more permanent roof.
Converted from a vacant former business building, a new 10-bed transitional house on Simpson Avenue in downtown Hoquiam can host young adults ages 18-24, and emancipated youth older than 16, for up to two years, pulling some out of homelessness and preventing others from falling into it as they move on from foster care and other youth shelters.
Grays Harbor County Public Health contracted with the local coordinated entry agency, Coastal Community Action Program, to open the new resource. Those agencies, along with the city of Hoquiam, celebrated the project’s opening on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
“The city of Hoquiam has been a fantastic partner for this project and we are hopeful many other property owners will look at their empty buildings to see if there is an opportunity to create affordable housing out of the upstairs vacant spaces,” said Kimberly Stoll-French, housing program manager with CCAP, in an email.
The new youth housing in Hoquiam complements previous work to reduce and prevent teen homelessness. CCAP in 2021 opened a six-bed youth shelter in Aberdeen, nicknamed “The Walkthrough,” which hosts teens aged 12-17 for up to two-month stays.
That same year, the county selected the transitional housing project as a response to a proposal for emergency housing projects, and funded it with document recording fees. In recent years, the state Legislature has increased county document recording fees and applied them to various housing programs.
Like the shelter in Aberdeen, the new transitional house will have resources and mentoring to help youth move into the next stage of their lives — chiefly permanent housing. Along with young guests, an advisor, employed through CCAP, will live onsite at the house in downtown Hoquiam.
But unlike The Walkthrough, the Hoquiam building will cater to more independent living for young adults, with support services like education, employment, case management, financial and budgeting.
According to Stoll-French, residents at the transitional house will have their own lease with landlord Kim Chang Lim, a property owner who works with the agency. Stoll-French said the units themselves won’t be subsidized, but residents can get subsidies through CCAP or other housing agencies.
Homeless or at-risk youth will be entered into the house through CCAP’s coordinated entry program, and will be prioritized by vulnerability, Stoll-French said.
“With the prioritization tool, the most at-risk populations are served first,” Stoll-French said.
During a one year period in 2020 and 2021, which overlapped by only a few months with the opening of youth shelter in Aberdeen, a state report released in June 2023 shows that 121 people aged 12 to 24 in Grays Harbor County exited some kind of care or corrections system — they aged out of foster care, were discharged from a government-funded behavioral health facility, or completed a juvenile detention sentence. Within one year of release, 16 of those individuals became homeless, according to state data.